Art by Tom Swanson

Rainie Sunshine: Organic Flexitarian

Pictures of Rainie Sunshine’s food regularly come across my Facebook newsfeed.  I know the food is delicious and totally nutritious but it’s the beauty of each piece that makes me look over the photos so closely.  Rainie and husband James Frazier are raising their family in Hawaii and she sells her creations at local farmer’s markets.  Whatever your diet, Rainie provides some great info in this interview.  Beyond that, I think it’s best to keep the intro simple:  It seems that Rainie’s business is her food is her art is her search is her life…

Daniel:  Tell me the term that best defines what you’re doing? I alternate between saying ‘raw foods’ and ‘live foods’ – using the terms interchangeably.

Rainie Sunshine:  I am much more fond of the term live foods.  I even further prefer the adjective, vibrant.  Raw sounds harsh, cold, undigestable.  Live to me refers to sprouts and ferments.  Vibrant can include all of these and so much more.

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Daniel:  Vegan, raw, live, organic? Can you shed some light on these terms for us?

Rainie Sunshine:  For commercial purposes I prepare raw vegan cuisine.  There are a few reasons for this.  The logistics behind the facilities that I use to prepare food for my community are one.  With a vegan menu, you essentially have very minimal potentially hazardous ingredients and products.  This makes all of your permitting so, so much easier.  Also, it offers clarity for my clientele.  I have not chosen to ever include something that is not raw vegan so that I am consistent and clear about what is offered.  All of the foods I offer are organic.  Some of my local ingredients are not certified but they are organically managed.  For me, organic is a way of life.  It is about respecting the temple of your body by not placing any unnatural chemicals in it.  And, just as important, it is about respecting the temple of the earth in which we dwell.

Daniel:  What’s the inspiration and motivation for your food? And does your diet consist entirely of live foods or does it compliment other styles of eating. 

Rainie Sunshine: I feel that increasing the vibrancy of anyone’s diet is beneficial.  I think that almost everyone can incorporate more sprouts, more fruits, more veggies and certainly more beauty into their food.  And, live foods and ferments!  I cannot imagine eating the Standard American Diet without also eating kimchi!

IMG_0939Daniel:  What are the benefits from this type of diet? 

Rainie Sunshine: Increased fiber, moisture, vibration.  I also really really love looking at my grocery cart or my basket at Farmer’s Market.  When it is full of beauty and color I know that I will also be filled with beauty and color.  I’ve always been a big fan of the ‘eating the rainbow’ concept.  With vibrant, raw cuisine eating the rainbow is easy and fun!

Daniel:  It seems that scientific research in our country is often done on problems that are nearly epidemic and/or will yield results that a business can capitalize on. I don’t necessarily expect any studies on raw/live/vibrant food diets, but can you point us to any?

Rainie Sunshine: The only words I have heard on this kind of topic are that several folks diagnosed with cancer have dramatically reverse and/or slowed the cancer growth with vibrant foods.

I strongly feel that life ebbs and flows.  There are distinct seasons in our lives.  There are seasons of growth, seasons of cleansing, seasons of rationing and seasons for spiritual evolution.  I feel our diet should be flexible enough to move through these seasons gracefully.  I have never been successful at adopting one diet and staying with it in a healthy way for very long.  The term organic flexitarian is a beautiful term.  I feel that a raw vegan diet can save your life.  I also feel that being a dogmatic raw vegan can endanger your life. 

Eat rainbows and eat within the season of your life.  Is it time to cleanse, rebuild, lighten or ration?  Feel into your gut, keep your gut moving, drink lots of water, limit alcohol and coffee and invite vibrancy, beauty and pro-biotics into every meal.

Daniel: How hard is it to get a good balance of carbs, fats, and proteins when eating live? I’m assuming vitamins and minerals are there in abundance in a good raw foods diet. But is it feasible (and fairly easy) to play around with the ratios of macronutrients to accommodate other diet plans like reduced carb diets or lower fat diets (for calorie deficit and weight loss)? 

Rainie Sunshine:  I think eating a raw vegan diet is great… as long as you have a nice steak every once in while!  ; ) But seriously, there are an infinite number of diets and philosophies on eating.  I do not claim to be adding one to the mix.  As far as I can tell in my 20 years of examining diets and food philosophy is that there is no one clear answer to what will sustainably feed us all. image008

There are so many factors to consider.  Weight gain, weight loss, planet health, colon health, heart health, local ingredients versus imported, what is the climate where you live, what is your activity level, what heredity deficiencies are you working with?  These are just off the top of my head, there are so many other factors.    I’ve been raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, completely omnivorous and all I can officially report about every one of these diets is that there are downsides and side effects to all of them.  And I am still searching.  I am still searching for that diet that can be my guiding light.  The diet that I confidently adopt and feel very proud of.  But honestly I have not found it yet.

As a person who creates  health food for the community people often assume that I have all the answers, or at least some answers.  In a way I do.  I think about food all day long.  I am thinking about what is yummy, nutritious, sustainable, etc.  And though I can talk extensively about healthy fats, protein content, fiber, colon health, etc, I feel very, very lacking on any true answers to what the ultimate diet is.  And of course we are all so different.  With different inherited deficiencies and abundances.  The diet of a ten year old boy is very different than that of a thirty five year old female.  But I have to believe that there is a guiding philosophy out there somewhere.  And, I will continue to search.  My hunch is that it has to do with everything is moderation.  I often joke that I am a raw carnivorous vegan who is grain free and enjoying a slice of toast._MG_3802 (1)DessertsIMG_0842IMG_5084

Daniel:  There’s an element of visual art in the things you make – at least from your Facebook posts. Talk about that.

Rainie Sunshine:  Honestly the decorating of foods that are delicious and highly nutritious is one of my favorites parts of my life.  I love assembling the desserts.  It takes several hours per dessert.  I first gather ingredients, because I live in Hawaii and fruits and vegetable are my main ingredients I get the immense pleasure of visiting local farmers and purchasing from them direct.  Once all of these amazing ingredients find their way into the commercial kitchen there is all the rounds of cleaning and prepping that you would expect.  And then the nuts are put to sprout, the vegetables and fruits are juiced.  I combine these elements together with dates, coconut butter and other seasonings to create flavor combinations that are pleasing and seasonal.  I enjoy playing with the colors as I create.  Because the food is raw the color is so vibrant.  These colors inspire the art that I embellish each dessert with.  At a local farm and in my own garden I harvest fresh edible flowers ever week.  The symmetry, balance and harmony of a flower is very dreamy.  It is in this dreamy state that I adorn the cakes.  Much as a painter begins with a blank canvas I begin with blank coconut cream frosting.  I pre-slice the cakes into 12 equal slices.  From the even 12 slices comes the symmetry, balance, harmony and beauty of my cakes.  It’s like they all have a song to be sung and if I get quiet enough I can allow that song to come through.

Daniel:  If someone wants to get started exploring raw and live foods – whether it’s eating, making, or just reading about them – where do you suggest starting? What kind of resources are available? Let’s address scenarios on opposite ends of the spectrum: 1)Someone who’s on their own in the city, no natural/organic foodstore nearby and, 2)A person w/ easy access to farmers markets, organic foods, and maybe even friends who are interested in exploring recipes w/ them.

Rainie Sunshine:  For me, I have learned several diets, beginning with vegan, then organic, then gluten free, then raw, then paleo.  These days I make up my own creative combination of all the above.  For each of these diets I started the same way.  I got a simple book, definitely not a complex fancy one.  Something inexpensive and highly accessible and I read a bit of it.  And then I dive in.  Often I would lose a little weight when beginning on a new diet because I wasn’t equipped to have snacks ready all the time.  I would have to miss out on hungry moments because I didn’t have the item I was craving at that time. I would have to do something simple like eat a carrot because I hadn’t figured out how to have something elaborate.  These days all of the above mentioned diets are brimming with info.  The internet and the publications are seemingly endless.  It was my affinity for these simple and accessible cookbooks that inspired my creation of my own food preparation guide that focuses on raw vegan and live cuisine; “Live Foods for the People,”  which I continue to get great feedback on.

Daniel:  How much time, energy, and investment does someone have to make to bring a little live foods into their life? Again, let’s assume we’re addressing people at both ends of the spectrum: On one hand we have someone who isn’t very savvy in the kitchen and won’t likely dive in to a recipe that takes a special blender and a lot of time, while on the other hand we have someone who loves to be in the kitchen whipping things up, etc.

Rainie Sunshine:  I would say that the raw food diet is no different than cooked foods here.  If you are wanting something very elaborate, whether it is homemade pizza, steak or soup you need to spend some time, you’ll need some gear.  The raw food world is no different.  But, in both realities there are more simple options available, and more elaborate, always.

Daniel:  Does this diet have a place in the life of a busy city dweller, or is this farm-hippy stuff?

Rainie Sunshine:  I feel this diet has a place in both people’s hearts and homes ; )


You can get a copy of Rainie’s recipe book on her site,, and follow her on Facebook

Props, Rainie.

Thanks go to all who take their time to give interviews and to you who read them. Exogenista is on social media : @exogenista on Twitter, Exogenista on Instagram, and on the Facebook Follow and/or like to get updates on fresh content. Comments on this site will be screened and will take time to appear due to tons of spam – sorry, spammers. Be well and much love, everyone.


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